Tuesday, April 30, 2013

big girl pants

This post could be about my perma-nausea[1] – the persistent, hungover/seaksick/queasy/woozy feeling that seems to peak in the morning, evening and at unforeseen moments in between[2]. This post could be about how I wallowed for a couple days, dramatically dragging myself out of bed in the morning and keeping saltine crackers on the nightstand in some effort to ward off my early morning blood sugar nosedive. This post could be about how I grimaced at the smell of garlic and could be nowhere near the kitchen during most hours of the day or night lest I lay eyes on some deeply offensive food group like cookies[3], salad or anything not made exclusively from white flour. This post could be about how this morning, I put on my big girl pants, dressed up like some reasonable facsimile of a competent attorney, went and saw my client in jail and realized how frigging great I have it, you know, not having to spend my birthday incarcerated and not facing potential deportation from my home. And then I ate a tuna fish sandwich because damnit, I was in my big girl pants I am very lucky and I need to just deal already.

But that’s not what any of this post is about. Because I am nothing if not a promisekeeper,[4] here I am to deliver on my utterly captivating here-is-how-my-diet-has-radically-changed post.

Once upon a time, way back in the forever-and-ever-until-now, I ate fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I delighted in perusing the aisles of my local Whole Foods (because I am a liberal who detests the CEO’s philosophy[5] but loves produce more). I loved cooking and baking, having dinner parties and browsing food blogs and other cliehe stuff that white people like, like camping and picking my own fruit. Today, I am sorry to say, I am but a shell of my former self. That Sarah of the past is dead to me now.

In the span of several days, my diet has shifted radically from this:

CSA farm share + cookies. You know, an eminently balanced diet.

To this:

Not pictured: copious amounts of oatmeal and lemon-ginger tea.

(The oranges are included to ward off scurvy!). It is utterly disgusting. So, dear readers. When you find me, so many days from now, a bloated, constipated, white-flour-filled corpse[6], my hair thinning from lack of nutrients, my skin grey and pockmarked, you will know why. A moment of silence, shall we?

Very well then. As I mentioned, today I turned a corner. I ate a tuna fish sandwich[7] and I felt fantastic. Now if you’ll excuse me, let me just slip these “sea bands” (seriously, how much fun are those two having with their adult wristbands!) back on each wrist and crawl under the covers with a saltine cracker and my will.

[1] Replace “stole that blind guy’s hot dog” with “the time I cheated at Banagrams as a 29 year old woman” (it wasn’t my fault I saw the other side of my tile letter “T” now was it?).
[2] Yes, yes, grateful for these signs, embracing any possible, plausible “affirmational (not a word) symptom” of a bona fide pregnancy, etc. But also not unwilling to concede that this is all just a dirty trick, played on me by SHINGLES. That bitch. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see at the…first ultrasound this Friday. (Like how I stuck that in the footnote, eh?).
[3] Cookies are a food group. What?
[6] Too graphic?
[7] I know. You can tell I’m pretty proud of this. The thing is, I don’t even like tuna that much. But the bar is low here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

rhymes with shingles

What’s that? Despite the nauseating feeling you experience upon breathing you’re interested in swallowing a pill the size of a deck of cards five times a day for seven days? Accompanied by a strange rash and general feeling of total body malaise? WELL HOLD THE EVERLOVING PHONE. Shingles it is!

I would be remiss if I did not tell you – I have shingles. That’s right. All you discerning readers who thought that my casual mention of “shingles” in my last post was just another one of my whimsical, hyperbolic, and melodramatic cries for attention? Well, you were right. But on Friday I confirmed what I feared all along! since approximately 48 hours ago. The red, vesicular rash on the right side of my abdomen that alternately feels itchy and ultra-sensitive has been with us – all of us! we are the world[1]! etc. – since Monday. But it wasn’t until rapid-fire consultation with five different physicians[2] that I had the pleasure of a confirmed diagnosis and VERY AGGRESSIVE treatment plan – pills, deck of cards, take by mouth basically every 15 minutes, etc. – to follow.

So here I am, REALLY, REALLY needing to get back to like, being a competent and together lawyer, because I can only be excused for so many doctors appointments in one 72 hour period unsure whether the intermittent waves of nausea and sudden predilection for bland carbohydrates – and distaste for, no, ABSOLUTE DISGUST FOR, chocolate and sweets[3] – have more to do with the toxic horse pills or the gaggle of cells hopefully-developing-normally in my uterus[4]. Also, let’s be honest – the absurdity of having shingles during my first trimester, after trying desperately to get and stay pregnant for 14 months is really, truly HILARIOUS[5]. <end scene>

[1] The best kind of vintage MTV. Also, Bethenny Frankel has totally been rocking an MJ look lately. (Yeah, that’s right, I just referenced Bethenny Frankel. What of it?)
[2] Doctor #1 (primary care doctor): <takes one look> It looks like zoster[2]. I’m giving you a prescription for Acyclovir, one pill, five times a day, for seven days. The OBs say it won’t affect the pregnancy.
Doctor #2 (OB who primary care doctor has consulted regarding treatment because, hellopregnantohmygodFETUS! and who has kindly run up five flights of stairs to inspect me herself): <panting – you know, from running – takes one look> I agree with [Doctor #1]. It looks like zoster. Cue: many reassuring words about how zoster has no effect on a developing fetus despite what you may have read on webmd/the treatment is completely safe in pregnancy.
[Intermission, i.e. Thursday evening, in which C, on call at the hospital, where I have just been for two hours, is basically having an aneurysm and freaking the fuck out. Unsatisfied with merely two opinions, he pulls strings so that I can see an infectious disease doctor first thing Friday morning.]
Doctor #3 (infectious disease fellow): <takes one, slightly longer look> It looks like zoster to me. But I want to bring in the attending to see what she thinks.
Doctor #4 (infectious disease attending): <deep in concentration, even breaks out a little flashlight for some serious inspection, which naturally makes me feel like I’m in a spy thriller because obviously> Hmmmmm. I’m not sure it’s zoster. I would stop taking the medication. If it is zoster, it’s mild and it should resolve on its own. There’s no evidence that Acyclovir harms a pregnancy but you’re so early on and there just isn’t a lot of evidence on the effect of Acyclovir in pregnancy. Call your OB and see what she thinks.
<Sarah, *face palm*, panicked, having already taken 3 doses of what now appears to be fetus poison, etc.>
Doctor #5 (my “high risk[2]” obstetrician who I haven’t actually been properly referred to yet because I haven’t actually had my first ultrasound with the fertility clinic but whose nurse suffers through my calls regardless): YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST FINISH THE ENTIRE CYCLE OF MEDICATION. THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.
[3] The horror! But seriously, folks. Let us take a moment to mourn the loss of this very important food interest. And please check back for my absolutely captivating forthcoming post detailing the CATASTOPHIC changes in my quibbling, disgusting, only-eats-starch diet which I continue to resist (unsuccessfully). You know, between the waves of nausea and fear of scurvy. 
[4] I know, I know. Nausea plus strong food aversions plus boobs-so-sore-no-touching! is, potentially, good news. But like my dear friend Tina Fey says, “My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.” <it’s like she knows me!>
[5] I am nearly certain that this baby is ripping up my medical bills. Good baby.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

my elusive "pregnancy voice"

I don’t quite know what to do with my infertile-but-now-pregnant self. I’ve been having feelings of…. Guilt! Betrayal! THIS GIRLDLE IS SO TIGHT! And other melodramatic feelings that only exist in the hearts of women in Jane Austen books[1] and Downton Abbey[2]?

Being pregnant[3] after infertility – even after my total junior league, AAA, <insert other sports reference signifying a very novice level of anything> infertility – is fucking strange. (An expletive was appropriate there, I assure you.)

But because delving too deeply into my “complicated” and “complex” feelings would necessarily involve something about my superego, followed by several painstaking hours of insufferable navel gazing, the urge to drink, and the en masse exit of all of my readers I’ll spare you.

That was a lie.

It’s just that <deep breath signifying profound thoughts to come, accompanied by dramatic hand gestures>: I’m not sure where I belong – cue the COLOSSAL ORCHESTRA of tiny violins[4]. On one hand, any admission of a promising beta feels like a direct assault. A kind of virtual, so long suckers! Which makes me feel like a total witch. On the other hand, ohmygoodness half-off-infant-fleece-Patagonia-onesie![5]

But this week, as promised, I’ve been trying to embrace optimism; to allow C (and myself, on alternate Tuesday afternoons, except today, not today), to like, enjoy this. Every godforsaken tender-breasted-getting-up-in-the-night-to-pee-three-times-should-i-bring-a-plastic-bag-on-the-subway-in-case-i-puke? moment.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

attitude adjustment

My freewheeling negativity, my sarcasm, my dark humor. My flippant remarks about live blogging my miscarriage and learning to say “repeat pregnancy loss.” My deep-seated belief that nothing will work, that my lining is too thin, that my uterus is misshapen, that my numbers are too high/low/backwards/purple/Thursday. It’s all gotten to be a little much – for C.

The other night, when C mentioned something sweet he hoped to do with our future baby, I reflexively pushed back – no, stop, don’t say that, we’re not at the point where it’s safe to even acknowledge I have a uterus[1].

Enough. He had had quite enough of my antics. He, for one, was ready to be optimistic, hopeful, even giddy with excitement (his words). His reasoning – which seems eminently, well, reasonable – is that whether or not he’s excited now, he will inevitably be devastated should things go wrong. So why not relish in the excitement? Why not openly debate the best middle name, the merits of the hyphenated last name, the color of the nursery and the animal themed changing table pad? SERIOUSLY SARAH. WHY THE F NOT.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

pressing pause

There’s nothing I can say about what happened in Boston that will feel sufficient, so excuse me while I stumble along, ever so briefly.

Boston – a city I have called home, a city I complained about for all the polo-shirt-wearing-drunk-Red-Sox-loving-massholes and the difficult winters and now, a city for which I can only say wow. Wow, Boston. Forgive me. I wasn’t sure you had it in you but you have moved me – the spirit of this community, the resilience of these people; I am humbled and awe struck. And now I am truly grateful for this city and these people and whatever kind soul thoughtfully puts scarves on the ducks in Boston Common each winter. My words are inadequate for the horrors that struck Boston on Monday – the horrors that strike far too many cities on a regular basis, where children become accustomed to the sounds many in Boston thought were celebratory cannons – but here were a few things other people said and did that I found particularly moving and important to share. In our outrage and sadness, please let us not descend into finger pointing, xenophobia and race baiting. We’re better than that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

gulp. still pregnant.

This morning I went for my second beta and the anxiety was, in a word, catastrophic. C was again working a 30 hour shift in the ICU so I was on my own for the last 24 hours, trying desperately to distract myself and legitimately contemplating whether I could request 24 hours of anesthesia or some other powerful sedative. Hey doc, just wake me when you get the bloodwork back. Seriously[1].

Which is why, after my early morning blood letting, sweaty, panicked and flustered, I drove around aimlessly for a while – there is literally nothing open at 8:45 am on a Sunday, it turns out – before arriving at the grocery store where I proceeded to gaze longingly at the gaggle of toddlers and infants and baby Bjorns that apparently proliferate grocery stores early in the morning walk as slowly as possible through every single aisle pausing to intently consider whether 11 dollar amaranth flour was something I should be incorporating into my diet.

And the grocery store – the check out line to be specific, being asked if I wanted “cash back”– is where I found myself when I got THE CALL. Although I’m certain I blacked out, I seem to have emerged from the store having paid and with groceries in hand, and only six or seven impulse buys[2].

Thursday, April 11, 2013

surprise: Yahoo Answers was right

Well, now I feel like a real chump. You guys, Yahoo Answers was right[1]. You can have spotting-that’s-kind-of-like-bleeding-noreallyitsbleeding-but-doesn’t-feel-exactly-like-a-normal-period-but-then-seriously what the fuck is normal anymore. And that thing, the spotting or the bleeding or whatever it was, it can mean you are pregnant. You guys, *cue the horn section*, I’m pregnant.

At least for today, at least for this very instant, until a second beta on Sunday proves otherwise or I wake up from this dream.

I’m not exactly sure what was happening the last few days – (avert your eyes if you’re squeamish): I had some spotting on Monday night, very light. Tuesday morning, more of the same. Tuesday late afternoon/evening gave way to well-fuck-this-is-a-real-period. On Wednesday morning, light spotting. All of which is to say that I became disconcertingly comfortable giving the nurse a daily update on “my flow.” (My Flow. i.e. Lilith Fair kiosk, Enya song, every book on sale here.)

C kept insisting I was pregnant. I kept insisting it was a period or yet another early loss. We even had a good cry on Monday night. And by Tuesday I had accepted the next phase.

But then yesterday morning I woke up to a smell. A smell woke me up. At 4 am, wide awake, I turned on the light, and looked around to make sure the dog hadn’t vomited/killed a small mammal/turned into a pumpkin. I still don’t know what the smell was but I am now acutely aware that I have a nose. And that is basically my only “symptom.”

Aside from the positive pee-stick pregnancy test I got this morning and the subsequent blood draw that showed a beta of 141[2] and the overly excitable tech who did an ultrasound and told me she’d “bet money” that I’m pregnant. She also mentioned seeing a corpus luteum cyst on my right ovary which she was over-the-moon excited about because that right thayh, that’s feeding ya baby! Which I found super creepy – and of questionable scientific accuracy – considering she had her arm deep inside of me. It also made me think of things that eat babies[3].

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

moving right along, cycle 5, day 2

This was going to be a post where I thanked all of you for your wisdom and insight and words of encouragement, admonitions to listen to myself and take a break and eat my vegetables. This was going to be a post about how after hitting an emotional wall on Friday, I crawled out of my infertility-cocoon[1]™ and spent the weekend with friends, unexpectedly and happily social, and that by Sunday night, I was rejuvenated. I was ready to face whatever was ahead. I was feeling replenished and relaxed and deep breath now, even optimistic. I was even mentally noting some non-specific symptoms – getting up to pee at least twice in the night, intermittent light headedness and, ohdeargod, holy adult-onset-acne batman! – that might be the earliest signs of Lord Voldemort, the Holocaust, the deficit that-which-shall-not-be-named.

That is all completely true; I am grateful to all of you for your spirit-boosting, I did have a great weekend and I did feel happy and refreshed. That’s what this post was going to be about. But the universe – knowing that such a post would be boring, trivial and full of absent minded reverie – intervened. 

Because, say it with me now friends and strangers: Oh no, my period!

Every cycle we[2] – you know, us, collectively, the infertility set <waves to the crowd> – prepare ourselves for this moment. We are glass half empty people, we construct barriers of self-protection on multiple fronts, we are pragmatic. We have read enough to know too much[3]. And so with each cycle we endeavor to keep our expectations low and we tell ourselves that this time, this time, we will take it in stride, we will move on to the next round, it will be okay. And then with each defeat, we are completely, almost irrevocably, destroyed. We become, at least momentarily, inconsolable. There is probably some crying, some grief eating, some not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-the-next-morning-ing. But then, at some point, for me it usually comes the next day, we pick ourselves up, somehow oblivious (almost) to the protracted defeat.

Friday, April 5, 2013

the wall, cycle 4, day 25

Today, I hit a wall. What was once a pronouncement of my emotional stability, foresight and some apparent measure of self-care – “I will take a beak! I am going on vacation!” – is now a possibility that fills me with terror.

In the car with C this morning, on our way to the RE’s office for a what’s-next-if-I’m-not-pregnant appointment, I found myself asking C about adoption – leap frogging, without explanation, right over two more medicated IUI cycles and who-knows-what IVF. Soon, C was sputtering, admitting that he’s not yet ready to confront the possibility that the prospect of having a child might be put off by years and tangled up in bureaucracy and money we don’t have. And then, meeting with the RE, there was C, conceding that he also has a psychological block when it comes to IVF – he’s just not there yet. Which led him to casually suggest that hey, why not DO AS MANY CYCLES OF IUI AS POSSIBLE FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN. To which the RE kindly read my mind replied, THE LADY WILL HAVE NONE OF THAT PLEASE AND THANK YOU. And I, possibly, maybe, just barely, gave sweet C one of those half-smile-trying-to-look-unfazed looks like, don’t you think we could have discussed this earlier? Ahem.

Here’s the thing: we usually emerge from the RE’s office plan-in-hand. Despite the possibility that plan foretells – still not pregnant – having it in my possession is deceptively empowering. Because I’m a controlling maniac sort-of-Type-A person, I embrace structure and certainty – or at least as much as I can get in the world of unpredictable infertility.

And yet, despite my ostensible insight into my own needs, we didn’t make a decision today. We didn’t plan the next cycle. We told the nurse of our vacation plans and we vaguely considered the dear-god-spare-me number of days of birth control that could keep things at bay while we’re hiking and gallivanting with friends across California next month. But despite my best intentions; despite my stoic affirmations and belief that having said it out loud would make it easier to do, I sit here having neither chosen to barrel ahead nor having given in to taking a break. In fact, I feel rather paralyzed; incredulous that we are here. In our fourth medicated cycle. More than ten years after we first started dating. More than one year after we first started trying.

But here we are, and here I am, weighed down with apprehension and insecurity. I’m not exactly sure what I want. I couldn’t be happier that we’re getting away, seeing close friends who we adore, and spending time outside instead of handcuffed to a keyboard. But at the same time, I’m deeply aware of the possibility that another needs-to-be-timed-for-right-now IUI cycle could have me resenting this adventure. I don’t want that. But I also don’t want this feeling. This uneasy in between, the foreboding and anxiety that has me biting my cuticles to the quick. I may just crawl into a cocoon until my beta next Friday. Please excuse me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ooh, Ahh, Science! cycle 4, day 23

Big news: I’ve got a little ditty up on BlogHer today. Those guys – err, ladies – are the best. Go show them some love. And if you’re here from BlogHer, thanks for stopping by and please, read on for more snarky irreverence and name-calling story telling.

Just hours after the feeling of having a vice slowly tighten around my ovaries has subsided, and in the throes of mild lower back pain that surely means I’m pregnant about to get my period/suffering a slipped disc from aggressively shoving my feet into those IUI stirrups, here I am. And, enraptured though I know you are by my stimulating discussion of non-specific symptoms that likely exist in my head only, today I want to talk about science[1].

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about IVF. Because I’m a stubborn pessimist and misanthrope realist, I have slowly begun to open the door to that magical wonderland. So while tentatively lured by Baby Center IVF message boards – which are essentially just a series of unintelligible acronyms, falling stars and numbers in place of letters (“m4yBb4by”?[2]) – I ran for the hills settled on something more academic. Because let’s be honest, while I’m opening the door, I’m just opening it a crack.

First things first. Did you know that the first successful IVF procedure in the US was accomplished in 1981 by husband-wife team Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr.[3] and Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones[4]? I did not know this. Bravo Drs Jones[5]. What’s more, Georgeanna’s research in the 1930s laid the foundation for the creation of at home pregnancy tests[6]. They were, it turns out, pretty badass – performing IVF in the early 80s, in the midst of right wing troglodytes with questionable moral imperatives. But the truth is that none of IVF would be possible without another woman: the now rather infamous, Henrietta Lacks.